When Boston College lost to North Carolina in the second round of the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, there was little indication of what was about to follow.
The Eagles had won their last three ACC games in the regular season and then even beaten Georgia Tech to advance in the conference tourney. The loss to the No. 19 Tar Heels to end the season wasn’t entirely unexpected or embarrassing, either.
But since that defeat on March 11, 2015, BC has not won an ACC game — a streak of 20 losses in a row that included the first 0-18 regular season in conference history. BC opens the regular season against Nicholls State on Nov. 11, but it’s the New Year’s Day ACC opener against rival Syracuse that most fans will be looking to.
The sooner the Eagles can end the losing streak, the sooner talk about the historic season of failure will end.
Here are some other things to look for from BC this season:
IT’S NOT JUST BASKETBALL
Though the basketball team’s losing streak is bad enough in its own right, it becomes historic when you combine it with the performance of the BC football team. The Eagles also went winless in the ACC in football last season, and they have lost their first four games in the league this year.
BC was the first ACC program to go winless in league play in both sports during the same school year. The last member of a current Power 5 league to do that was Georgia in 1943-44. The last member of a major conference to do it was TCU, then of the Southwest Conference, when it went a combined 0-24 during the 1976-77 season.
THEY WILL BE MISSED
The biggest losses for the Eagles were guard Eli Carter and center Dennis Clifford — two of the top three scorers and the leading rebounder and passer on the 2015-16 team. Between them, they accounted for 26 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
KY AND TY
A pair of North Carolinians, Ky Bowman and Ty Graves, are the top freshmen recruits for the Eagles. Bowman also played football in high school and was committed to play for the Tar Heels as a wide receiver before deciding that he wanted to play basketball instead. He’s expected to start at point guard. Graves played point guard in high school but coach Jim Christian plans to use him at shooting guard for the Eagles.
THEY’RE ALSO NEW, BUT A LITTLE OLDER
The frontcourt will be beefed up with a pair of graduate transfers with NCAA Tournament experience, Connor Tava and Mo Jeffers. Tava was a two-time All-Mid-American Conference honorable mention selection at Western Michigan before missing all of last season with a broken foot. The 6-foot-9 Jeffers was a shot-blocker at Delaware.
A year after using nine different true freshmen — second-most in the nation — the Eagles are once again relying on youth. The roster includes five freshmen and six sophomores and only one upperclassman — senior forward Garland Owens — to go with a couple of graduate transfers.
Christian said he sees things he likes so far and hopes it will continue once the games start.
“Young players have a really great grasp of the game in practice, and then once the game goes and the lights go on, they kind of lose that until they get comfortable,” he said. “So we have to be patient with that process.”